Youth climate activists will take demands to Governor’s front door

Posted by on July 13th, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Activists with Sunrise PDX protesting in front of ODOT’s regional headquarters on June 9th, 2021.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Young climate change activists will step up their opposition to the State of Oregon’s transportation policies with a march to Governor Kate Brown’s doorstep on Thursday.

Organizers with Sunrise PDX and other chapters of the Sunrise Movement from across Oregon will join the National Day of Action, which calls for young people nationwide to take to the streets and, “force our government and politicians to be bold and pass bold climate policy.”

We profiled some of these young activists back in June during their ongoing protest rallies in front of the Portland headquarters of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Now they’ll turn the heat up a notch with a direct action event outside Mahonia Hall, the Governor’s mansion in Salem.

Here’s more from the event announcement:

“Youth climate justice advocates are terrified and exhausted by the recent heat wave the west coast has experienced, the ocean catching fire and the general lack of willingness of all levels of government to take the necessary bold and drastic steps to mitigate the climate disaster we are all facing… They will be at Mahonia Hall from 3:30 to 4:30 PM singing songs, displaying art and making speeches on July 15th to call on Governor Brown to take bold steps to enable a livable future for us all.”

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The activists have a list of demands for Governor Brown that include: a veto of HB 3055, the bill passed by the legislature that has been called an “ODOT highway-widening slush fund”; a moratorium on all freeway expansions in the Portland region; a full Environmental Impact Statement for the I-5 Rose Quarter project; the appointment of a youth climate representative to the Oregon Transportation Commission, and more. (See the full list on this Instagram post.)

The march and rally will take place just one day after US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stops in Eugene on a tour to raise the profile of President Biden’s infrastructure proposals. In advance of that visit, the Portland-based No More Freeways co-leaders Aaron Brown and Joe Cortright have sent a letter to Sec. Buttigieg (PDF) asking him to force ODOT to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement on the I-5 Rose Quarter project.

NMF’s letter says ODOT’s project is, “an egregious example of the devastation that freeways have done to traditionally African-American and low-income communities around the nation,” and that ODOT has, “repeatedly ignored or overridden local input on the project.”

“The Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion is emblematic of many of the legacy problems associated with the US Freeway system, and rather than solving or even lessening these problems it actually makes them worse,” the letter continues. “since ODOT refuses to listen to local elected leaders and Governor Brown has yet to use her executive authority to demonstrate climate action, you, Secretary Buttigieg, can help us set this wayward agency straight.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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maxD

what an inspiring group of young people- this makes me optimistic!